Author Topic: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion  (Read 42902 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

bwv 1080

  • Guest
Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« on: April 07, 2007, 04:42:23 PM »
(Wikipedia Entry)
Henri Dutilleux (born January 22, 1916 in Angers, France) is one of the most important French composers of the second half of the 20th century, producing work in the tradition of Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, and Albert Roussel, but in a style distinctly his own. Although his output is relatively small, its high quality and originality have won international praise.
 
[edit] Life
As a young man, Dutilleux studied harmony, counterpoint and piano with Victor Gallois at the Douai Conservatory before leaving for Paris. There from 1933 to 1938 he attended the classes of Jean and Noël Gallon (harmony and counterpoint), Henri-Paul Busser (composition) and Maurice Emmanuel (history of music) at the Paris Conservatoire.

Dutilleux won the Prix de Rome in 1938 for his cantata L'Anneau du Roi but did not complete the entire residency in Rome due to the outbreak of World War II. He worked for a year as a medical orderly in the army and then came back to Paris in 1940 where he worked as a pianist, arranger and music teacher and in 1942 conducted the choir of the Paris Opera.

Dutilleux worked as Head of Music Production for French Radio from 1945 to 1963. He served as Professor of Composition at the École Normale de Musique de Paris from 1961 to 1970. He was appointed to the staff of the Paris Conservatoire in 1970. His students include French composers Gérard Grisey and Francis Bayer and Canadian composer Jacques Hétu.


[edit] Influences and Style
Dutilleux's music extends the legacies of earlier French composers like Debussy and Ravel but is also clearly influenced by Béla Bartók and Igor Stravinsky. His attitude towards Serialism is more problematic. While he has always paid attention to the developments of contemporary music and has incorporated some serialist techniques into his own compositions, he has also denounced the more radical and intolerant aspects of the movement. As an independent composer, Dutilleux has always refused to be associated with any school. Rather, his works merge the traditions of earlier composers and post-World War II innovations and translate them into his own idiosyncratic style. His music also contains echoes of jazz as can be heard in the double bass introduction to his First Symphony and his frequent use of syncopated rhythms.

Some of Dutilleux's trademarks include very refined orchestral textures, fluid and intricate rhythms, a preference for atonality and modality over tonality, the use of pedal points that serve as atonal pitch centers and "reverse variation" by which a theme is not exposed immediately but rather revealed gradually, appearing in its complete form only after a few partial, tentative expositions. His music also displays a very strong sense of structure and symmetry. This is particularly obvious from an "external" point of view i.e. the overall organisation of the different movements or the spatial distribution of the various instruments but is also apparent in the music itself (themes, harmonies and rhythms mirroring, complementing or opposing each other).

Most of his works have a dreamlike, highly poetic quality, which makes them relatively more accessible than those of many other post-World War II composers.

Dutilleux's music has often been influenced by art and literature, such as by the works of the painter Vincent van Gogh, poet Charles Baudelaire and novelist Marcel Proust. It also shows a concern for the concepts of time and memory, through the use of quotations (notably from Bartók, Britten and Jehan Alain) and short interludes which recall material that was used in earlier movements and/or introduce ideas that will be fully developed later.

A perfectionist with an acute sense of artistic integrity, he has allowed only a small number of his works to be published, and what he does publish he often revises and adjusts even after.


[edit] Music
Dutilleux numbered as Op. 1 his Piano Sonata (1946-1948), written for pianist Geneviève Joy whom he had married in 1946. He has renounced the works he composed before it because he did not believe them to be representative of his mature standards, considering many of them to be too derivative to have merit. Some of these works are nonetheless still played nowadays, for instance the flute sonatina (1943) and the oboe sonata (1947).

After the Piano Sonata, Dutilleux started working on his First Symphony (1951). It consists of four monothematic movements and has a perfectly symmetrical structure: music slowly emerges from silence (1st movement) and builds towards a fast climax (2nd), keeps its momentum (3rd) and finally slowly fades out (4th).

In 1953, Dutilleux wrote the music for the ballet Le Loup. It was a considerable success which made him known to a wider audience.

In his Second Symphony, titled Le Double (1959), the orchestra is divided into two groups: a small one at the front with instruments taken from the various sections (brass, woodwinds, strings and percussions) and a bigger one at the back consisting of the rest of the orchestra. Although this brings to mind the Baroque concerto grosso, Dutilleux has clearly stated that that was not the idea behind the work. Rather, the smaller ensemble acts as mirror or a ghost for the bigger one, sometimes playing similar or complementary lines, sometimes contrasting ones.

His next work, Métaboles (for orchestra, 1965) explores the idea of metamorphosis, how a series of subtle and gradual changes can radically transform a structure. A different section of the orchestra dominates each of the first four movements before the fifth brings them all together for the finale. It is one of Dutilleux's best known and most acclaimed compositions.

In the mid-sixties, Dutilleux met Mstislav Rostropovich who commissioned him to write a cello concerto. Rostropovich premiered the work, titled Tout un monde lointain, in 1970. It is one of the most important additions to the cello repertoire of the 20th century. In five movements, Tout un Monde Lointain is a nocturnal, mysterious work with a delicate orchestration and an eerily beautiful, yet highly virtuosic solo part. While most of the concerto is introspective and meditative, it also has occasional outbursts of violence and a frantic build-up to the ambiguous, suspended finale.

After the cello concerto, Dutilleux turned to chamber music for the first time in more than 20 years and published various works for piano (Figures de Résonances, 3 Préludes) and the important 3 Strophes sur le Nom de Sacher (1976) for solo cello. But his most important work of that era is the string quartet Ainsi la Nuit (1976). Each of its movements highlights various special effects (pizzicato, glissandi, harmonics, extreme registers, contrasting dynamics…) resulting in a difficult but fascinating work, which is among Dutilleux's very best.

He then returned to orchestral works in 1978 with Timbres, Espace, Mouvement ou la Nuit Etoilée, inspired by Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night. In this composition, Dutilleux attempted to translate in musical terms the opposition between emptiness and movement conveyed by the painting with strikingly successful results. He achieved this by using a strings section without violins and violas - thus consisting only of the lower-register instruments: cellos and double basses.

In 1985, Isaac Stern premiered L'Arbre des Songes, a violin concerto that he had commissioned Dutilleux to write. Like its cello counterpart, it is an essential addition to the instrument's 20th century repertoire.

Dutilleux later wrote Mystère de l'Instant (for cymbalum and chamber orchestra, 1989), Les Citations (for oboe, harpsichord, double bass and percussion, 1991), The Shadows of Time (for orchestra and children voices, 1997) and Sur le Même Accord (for violin and orchestra, 2002 - dedicated to Anne-Sophie Mutter).

In 2003, he completed Correspondances, a song-cycle inspired by poems and letters by Prithwindra Mukherjee, Rilke, Solzhenitsyn and Van Gogh. This work has received a very enthusiastic reception and has been programmed several times since its première.

Now over 90, Dutilleux is busy composing a work for American soprano Renée Fleming. He has also expressed the wish to write more chamber music, a genre which he feels he has neglected. Indeed, apart from the various piano works, Ainsi la Nuit, 3 Strophes sur le Nom de Sacher and Les Citations, most of his output is orchestral.

Offline UB

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 263
  • In South Africa we have really big cats!
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2007, 01:39:08 AM »
bwv - but do you like his music or did you just cut and paste because you had nothing else to do at the time? Just kidding - thanks for starting a thread on this amazing French composer.

10 years ago I did a survey of my collection of after 1950 violin concertos - I had about 40 at the time - and decided that L'Arbre des Songes was the best of the lot. My choice is the Stern with Bernstein's Serenade as the filler not the Stern with PMD.

Tortelier box set is a great way to get to know the orchestral works.

I see that a new work, Le Temps l'Horloge for soprano and chamber orchestra, will be premiered in September of this year with Renee Fleming.



I am not in the entertainment business. Harrison Birtwistle 2010

Offline Maciek

  • Ban them all!
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 5200
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2007, 11:03:35 AM »
Just dropped in to say I love Dutilleux. :D Haven't got many CDs though - but have heard quite a lot live and on the radio (and have a few radio recordings). Will have to definitely expand... :D 8)

Maciek

Offline Brewski

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 12998
  • "Man With No Shadow" by Makoto Tojiki (2009)
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2007, 11:11:25 AM »
I've just discovered his music in the last couple of years, most notably through two live performances of the Symphony No. 2 ("Le Double") by Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra.  Hard to believe this magical concoction isn't done more often, but there you go.  Since then, I've heard the string quartet, Ainsi la nuit (the Arditti recording), and some of the orchestral works e.g., L'Arbre des Songes and Mystère de l'Instant (live), all fascinating.

--Bruce
« Last Edit: April 11, 2007, 11:24:24 AM by bhodges »
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

karlhenning

  • Guest
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2007, 11:12:44 AM »
I've just discovered his music in the last couple of years, most notably through two live performances of the Symphony No. 2 ("Le Double") by Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra.  Hard to believe this magical concoction isn't done more often, but there you go.

I found this symphony ravishing when we heard it at Symphony, Bruce!

Offline Brewski

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 12998
  • "Man With No Shadow" by Makoto Tojiki (2009)
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2007, 11:17:23 AM »
I found this symphony ravishing when we heard it at Symphony, Bruce!

Maybe it's gaining in popularity...I hope so.  His skills as a colorist are quite amazing, and the compositional "problem" of having a small chamber ensemble interact with the larger one seemed very nicely solved (after just two hearings, without close study).  Above all, it is just an arresting piece of music, one that seduces very quickly.  Wish I'd gotten the chance to hear it by different forces, i.e., in Boston.

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

karlhenning

  • Guest
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2007, 11:20:56 AM »
Maybe it's gaining in popularity...I hope so.

I hope it may!  But the BSO, you can expect not to disown the piece; we commissioned it  :D

The program we heard it on was a gala retrospective of four historical BSO commissions:  the Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms, the Bartók Concerto for Orchestra, the Dutilleux, and Carter's Boston Concerto.

It was, as you might expect, a great concert;  but the Dutilleux, then entirely new to me, was the great revelation.

Quote
His skills as a colorist are quite amazing, and the compositional "problem" of having a small chamber ensemble interact with the larger one seemed very nicely solved (after just two hearings, without close study).  Above all, it is just an arresting piece of music, one that seduces very quickly.  Wish I'd gotten the chance to hear it by different forces, i.e., in Boston.

Offline not edward

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3827
  • Hello, little man. I will destroy you.
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2007, 11:22:41 AM »
A few years ago, I was really really big on Dutilleux.

Though my initial enthusiasm hasn't entirely lasted, there are a few pieces I think will rank high in the 20th century pantheon, particularly the Second Symphony, Ainsi la nuit, the Violin Concerto and above all Timbres, Espace, Mouvement (La Nuit Etoilee).

One very pleasing thing about his work is that there really aren't any weak links in his mature output--even the quirky Diptyque: Les Citations has a lot to recommend it.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Greta

  • Guest
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2007, 05:42:58 PM »


I heard this today, my first encounter with Dutilleux's music! :D 


karlhenning

  • Guest
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2007, 05:44:36 PM »

I heard this today, my first encounter with Dutilleux's music! :D 

AND . . . ?

Greta

  • Guest
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2007, 06:02:03 PM »
AND . . . ?

And....that post ended early because I accidentally spilled a glass of tea on my keyboard, and pushed Enter while I was cleaning it up!  Oops! ;D

So anyway, it is fantastic! Totally love it. I kept reading things about Graf's Dutilleux cycle and finally got around to picking up one of them, it's a fine disc. Just great performances, the orchestra sounds superb in this music. And an utterly cheap set from Arte Nova.

The Sonnets de Jean Cassou are gorgeous, dreamy and romantic, the Violin Concerto so colorful and imaginative.

Mystere d'Instant is well, mysterious, and highly enjoyable. For some reason Ligeti comes to mind, and earlier in the disc, Messiaen. And is there some Eastern influence?

His harmonies are very lush, much depth in his writing. Yes, they can be dissonant pieces, but are lovely to listen to, I can imagine live in a nice hall what a cool experience it would be.

Awesome stuff!  8)


Offline SonicMan46

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 14448
  • Location: North Carolina
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2007, 06:37:42 PM »
I had the Arte Nova set, but also obtained the Chandos collection w/ Tortelier, which I liked much more (but not the bargain!) - CLICK on the image for reviews, if interested; also, a 10/10 rating on Classics Today by David Hurwitz - the extra price is worth the admission -  :D


head-case

  • Guest
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2007, 07:43:47 PM »
bwv - but do you like his music or did you just cut and paste because you had nothing else to do at the time? Just kidding - thanks for starting a thread on this amazing French composer.

10 years ago I did a survey of my collection of after 1950 violin concertos - I had about 40 at the time - and decided that L'Arbre des Songes was the best of the lot. My choice is the Stern with Bernstein's Serenade as the filler not the Stern with PMD.

Tortelier box set is a great way to get to know the orchestral works.

I see that a new work, Le Temps l'Horloge for soprano and chamber orchestra, will be premiered in September of this year with Renee Fleming.





That moniker, UB, reminds me of "Utah Bill" of ancient times.

Offline Guido

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3324
  • 396 CCs
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2008, 05:57:49 PM »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LySORUIPKl0&feature=related

Video of two supreme artists recording two of Dutilleux's finest works with comments from the composer!
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

Offline val

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2090
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2008, 05:12:12 AM »
I love the music of Dutilleux. In fact, he is my favorite composer of the 2nd half of the 20th century.

And above all his masterpieces, there is one that made a deep impression on me: the string Quartet "Ainsi la nuit". Only 17', divided in seven movements. It is perhaps thework that most justifies the title of this thread, "Dark dominion". Music of the night, with an extraordinary beauty, that stays with us long after it has finished.

Offline Brewski

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 12998
  • "Man With No Shadow" by Makoto Tojiki (2009)
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2008, 09:32:39 AM »
BBC Radio 3 Discovering Music

Stephen Johnson explores some of the ideas behind the music of one of France's leading composers, Henri Dutilleux, focusing on his second Symphony (Le double). Thierry Fischer conducts a performance given by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales as part of their Discovering Dutilleux festival. Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/discoveringmusic/pip/umm2w/

Thanks so much for posting this, James.  At this point I'm eager to hear different versions of this piece, which is one of Dutilleux's most invigorating.  (Wasn't aware of the festival, either!)

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline Brewski

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 12998
  • "Man With No Shadow" by Makoto Tojiki (2009)
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2008, 10:12:32 AM »
Dutilleux's output is small, but most of what I have heard of it is just wonderful & special.

- both symphonies
- timbre, space, movement
- cello concerto
- violin concerto
- métaboles
- mystère de l'instantles
- the shadows of time
- piano sonata
- string quartet "ainsi la nuit"
- trois strophes sur le nom de sacher for solo cello

I have heard most of those (some in live performance) and totally agree.  Forgot to mention that last December I heard Le Temps l’Horloge (2007) for soprano and orchestra, a short song cycle, with Renée Fleming and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Levine.  It was so marvelous...my sole complaint was that it was so short--just 9 minutes--that they should have done it twice.  (Especially since the composer was present!) 

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Offline vandermolen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 22320
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2008, 09:14:05 PM »
Interesting composer whom I should explore further. I have the Cello Concerto (the famous recording with the Lutosawski) and "Metaboles" (I think that's what it's called). Both very good.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Guido

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3324
  • 396 CCs
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2009, 08:25:39 AM »
I really need to hear more by this composer - I adore the cello and violin concertos, as well as the Trois Strophes, and am also very keen on the Symphony no.1 and Timbres, Espace, Mouvement. Pondering whether to get the complete orchestral works set...

Oh, and is anyone seeing Renée Fleming premiering the final version of Le Temps L'Horloge in Paris on May 9th this year? I hope it gets recorded.
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

nut-job

  • Guest
Re: Dutilleux's Dark Dominion
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2009, 08:38:14 AM »
Can't go too far wrong with this one.



Rostropovich playing the cello concerto that was written for him, and Pretre and the Paris Conservatory Orchestra playing the rarely heard and engaging Le Loup.  Very colorful.

Regarding the title of this thread, who would call Dutilleaux's work "Dark?"
« Last Edit: April 13, 2009, 08:39:56 AM by nut-job »